Local organization donates pet rescue masks to Medina Fire Department

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MEDINA, Ohio — A local fire department is getting some help saving the lives of pets, using special oxygen masks, thanks to a donation that comes less than a month after the successful rescue of one family's pet.

Medina resident Rae Clark was at dinner with family on November 9 when she received an unexpected call from local police.

"It said police on my caller ID and I look at my husband and said, 'Why are they calling me? I didn't do anything' and I handed the phone to him and he answered," she said.

The caller told Tim, her husband, that there was smoke coming from their Court Street home and firefighters were responding to the residence.

"I hung up the phone with her and and then I said to myself 'the dog. George is in the house.' And then I called them back and said 'my dog is upstairs. Can you get him out?" Tim explained.

Tim told the firefighters that George, a nine-year-old mixed breed, should be in the front bedroom on the second floor.

Firefighters Brandon Steidl and Mike Kamp entered the home using thermal imaging to help them find their way through the thick smoke.

"It was completely zero visibility in the residence. It was filled with smoke all the way down to the floor. We found the bedroom on the left upstairs and entered," said Steidl.

"I entered the room first.  The light was on in the room which helped, you know,  make the visibility a little better and we immediately saw George laying on the bed. So, we went to grab him by his collar and he of course was agitated, scared. He jumped up and ran off the bed and that's when we had to try to corral him because he wanted out of that room just as bad as everybody else in the smoky environment," said Kamp.

Once they got him outside George was turned over to medic Dan Gazzo who administered oxygen.

"With the dense smoke that was in the house I was kind of expecting the worst. Once they came out with the dog I was expecting to he handed a limp dog but I'm glad that wasn't the case," said Gazzo.

After three days in an animal clinic ICU George was reunited with his family and is well on his way to a full recovery.

On Wednesday, the Clarke family, along with their dog George, thanked the rescuers at the same time the fire department became the recipient of a donation that will help them save even more pets lives.

Through "Project Breathe" Invisible Fence of North Olmsted donated eleven pet mask kits to the Medina Fire Department and EMS, enough to put one mask in each truck.

Rescuers can place the cone shaped masks over the muzzle of a pet fire victim, hook the mask onto their supplemental oxygen and, in many cases, help save the life of the pet.

"Knowing that in case there's an emergency they are prepared now and hopefully they never have to use them, but if they do, they have them," said Justin Henry of Invisible Fence.

Invisible Fence of North Olmsted has donated more than 70 of the kits to local fire departments since joining "Project Breathe" in 2008.

Nationally the program has donated more than 9,600 of the kits to first responders over the same period of time

"Annually, there's around 40,000 pets that suffer fatally from smoke inhalation each year in the United States," said Henry.

Medina City Fire Chief Bob Painter says the department is grateful for the contribution. The kits, which cost about $70 each, are not a high priority item and not included in the department's budget, so the donation was well welcomed.

"We have one or two fires a year where we are bringing a dog or cat or something out and there's been extremes where there are snakes or ferrets but we end up rescuing the animals the best that we can," said  grateful for the contribution.

Click here for more on Project Breathe.

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